Sinn Féin - On Your Side

Opposition to new councils about protecting council seats

8 November, 2006

West Tyrone Sinn Féin MP Pat Doherty says that his party believes that the 7 Council model is most effective way of delivering meaningful benefits to ratepayers and of ensuring protection for the rights of minority communities within new Council boundaries.

He said,

"No party to the consultation argued for the retention of the 26 Councils but on balance the arguments for either the 15 or 11 model did not hold up to scrutiny.

"The 15 and 11 models could be described as half way houses which neither retain local identity nor afford locally elected representatives with the necessary powers or resources to bring about meaningful change within their local areas.

"For example, it is only under the 7 model that sufficient powers and financial resources would transferred to Councils to enable them to draw up and implement meaningful socio-economic development strategies for their areas.

"The 15 and 11 models could also serve to perpetuate the duplication of bureaucracy and eat up ratepayers' money that could be better used in improving frontline Council services.

"There is a strong feeling in the community that some councillors are more concerned about maintaining their own careers rather than putting in place a local government structure that would have sufficient powers and allocated resources to bringing about meaningful change for the rate payers of the different districts

"The 7 council model is the only one, we have seen so far, to provide protectionfor all minorities. It would ensure that within each and every council area there would be a minority of at least 20%. Those who advocate 11 or 15 are failing to tell people that this would result in significant minorities being trapped within council areas where their rights would not be represented or protected. Adherence to firm equality and powersharing legislation would be inbuilt prerequisites for councillors serving into these new councils and the exclusion of minorities like we presently have in Lisburn, Newtownabbey, Ballymena etc would not be able to happen.

"Within the Review of Public Administration and the changes to health, education and Council bodies the rights of public sector workers must be fully protected." ENDS

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